Mr. Em Fades Away?
That's an old image from my novella, but I now have a new dialogue that I can twist the image to fit, a dialogue I've been working on lately in the interstices of my time, a dialogue in which Mr. Em is speaking with 'me' as author, but seeking the upper hand over me in my own story:
"I assure you I am more than fiction," insisted Mr. Em. "Let us recall what else I said in that book Dostoevsky wrote. Like Goethe, he considered me the spirit that ever denies. From the foundations of the world, apparently, I was predestined 'to deny,' to play the role of critic in all creation. As Mephistopheles, I declared to Faust that I desired evil, but did only good. When I recalled these words to Ivan, I pretended I was a different adversary than Mephistopheles, one whose evil worked no good, but those are merely two distinct, diabolical roles played by the same world-negating spirit, my humble self. Like with the poodle in Faust, I come in many forms, as that clever, scrutinizing author noted, for my philosophy regards everything in life as negotiable, exchangeable, even life itself, especially life itself."Will Mr. Em win this time? Stay tuned . . .
"I see you are not above plagiarizing," I said.
"I've never been truly creative, that's not my role," he reminded me. "But I can do astonishing things. Even if I were but a demon born between the covers of a book, I have managed to jump from book to book and have now landed in that book you call your life. Indeed, you've helped bring me here."
"I can also send you back," I said.
"I'm not so easily gotten rid of," he retorted. "And how do you know you aren't also a character in a book, created by some other would-be deity that every author strives to become?"
"I'd hope for a little grace," I replied.
"Ah, grace," he echoed, though with irony, "that gaming of the system. Unlikely, though. Most great novels favor failure. Easier to depict evil than portray good. Though if grace is a means of cheating the devil, then it's also evil, wouldn't you say, even if evil against evil? If so, there's no way out!"